223 Rodeo Ave. Caldwell, ID 83605 | 208-459-0777 | www.simplot.com/livestock_products
Body Condition Scores and Why They Matter Great communication with our customers is key to our success as a business. It is our goal to keep you more informed than ever with this seasonal newsletter!
Keeping cattle at their optimal weight when it’s cold out can be a challenge for even the most experienced ranchers. The animals burn more energy to keep warm, requiring more feed than normal. Cattle whose body condition is over or underweight will be less reliable breeders come spring. As one Virginia Tech study found, “The percentage of open cows, calving interval, and calf vigor at birth are all closely related to the body condition of cows both at calving and during the breeding season.” Put in layman’s terms, keeping your cattle at a healthy weight heading into the spring is vital for a sustainable herd. To keep an eye on cattle’s weight year- round, many ranchers, researchers and nutritionists use a numeric scale called Body Condition Scoring, or BCS. This management tool allows you to quickly evaluate your animals and make adjustments when needed. The scale ranks cattle from a rating of 1 (emaciated) to 9 (extremely obese). The ideal range for a cow’s health and for highest rebreed potential is the 5-7 range, according to a six-herd study performed by Oklahoma State University. But how does one go about scoring their cattle on the BCS chart? The scale uses six reference points on the cow’s body as indicating factors. These are the pins, tail head, hooks, back, ribs, and
brisket. BCS evaluations are more accurate than measuring liveweight alone because liveweight can be affected by the animal’s overall stature and factors like pregnancy.
If you have a cow that falls outside of the ideal BCS range — whether under or overweight — consider consulting a veterinary nutritionist. They can give you a realistic feeding regimen to get your animal in shape in time for calving. Come in to your nearest Simplot Western Stockmen’s, and our animal health experts can help you create a winter plan to meet your specific needs. We even offer a full line of manufactured feed and can create custom feed rations. Getting your cattle in shape before calving can make a huge impact on the success of your ranch for years to come. So while it’s okay to let yourself put on a few extra pounds this holiday season, it’s crucial you don’t let your cattle do the same.
Evaluating your herd’s BCS allows you to sort cattle into individual feed groups based on the season and their nutritional needs. Since feed makes up roughly 60 percent of the cost of an average calving operation, ensuring you’re using your feed economically will keep your herd and your pocketbook healthy.
From all of us at the Simplot Western Stockmen’s team, happy holidays!
Simplot Western Stockmen’s | 1
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